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Chinese New Year Travel Rush Boosts Thailand Arrivals

The government claims it is completely prepared for the start of the Test & Go scheme this Tuesday, with over 465,000 visitors anticipated at Suvarnabhumi airport between January 26 and February 7, during the Chinese New Year travel rush.

According to Kittipong Kittikachorn, general manager of Suvarnabhumi airport, the estimated figure includes 115,931 foreign passengers and 349,522 domestic passengers. According to him, the data represent a 37.12 percent increase in aviation travel over the same period last year.

Airways (14 flights), Myanmar Airways (eight flights), and T’Way Airlines, a South Korean low-cost airline, (eight flights), he claimed.

The Chinese New Year holiday will be observed this year between Sunday and Tuesday.

Test & Go is ready for Chinese New Year travel rush

Meanwhile, government spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana disclosed yesterday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed confidence that Thailand is completely prepared to welcome visitors back under the Test & Go system, which will begin on February 1.

According to the spokesperson, this would assist the tourist sector recover after the plan was halted following the breakout of the Omicron variant.

He stated that Thailand’s public health system is well prepared to deal with the situation following the reopening of the plan, and that at least 8 million visitors are expected to arrive during the year, producing around B480 billion in revenue.

The Test & Go program for overseas visitors starts on Tuesday, February 1, during Chinese New Year travel rush.
The Test & Go program for overseas visitors starts on Tuesday, February 1, during Chinese New Year travel rush.

 On Friday (Jan 28), Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul met with leaders of the Tourism Council of Thailand and tourism groups in eastern Thailand, according to Deputy Government Spokeswoman Traisulee Traisoranakul.

Ms Traisulee said the organization congratulated the government for resuming the Test & Go program and asked it to expedite efforts to revitalize the tourism industry.

One suggestion is to exclude hospitels (hospital-cum-hotels) from value-added tax as an incentive for operators and to alleviate their financial responsibilities. According to Ms Traisulee, Mr Anutin promised to submit the recommendations for consideration by the prime minister and the Cabinet.

She went on to say that the administration is contemplating methods to reopen the nation, while virus prevention standards must still be followed.

The Test & Go program for overseas visitors starts on Tuesday, with a number of additional safeguards in place, including another RT-PCR test on the fifth day after travelers arrive in Thailand.

The program was halted earlier this month in response to rising concerns over the COVID-19 Omicron variety.

Overseas travelers must stay in a recognized hotel for one night while waiting for the results of their first RT-PCR test, which is performed upon arrival.

Those who return a negative test result for COVID-19 are then free to travel across the country.

When Test & Go returns on February 1, travelers will be asked to undergo two Covid-19 tests, one on the first day and one on the fifth.

The Thai government has announced health and safety guidelines during Chinese New Year celebrations.

Chinese New Year travel rush is expected to see more than 450,000 passengers

Between January 26 and February 7, more than 450,000 passengers will pass through the turnstiles at Bangkok’s major airport, Suvarnabhumi, including the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations. However, they are not entirely from outside; in fact, the vast majority, 349,000, are from within the country.

According to the airport’s general manager, 115,931 foreign passengers would pass through BKK throughout the 14-day period. When compared to the same period last year, this represents a 37% increase in flights. While the increase in visitors is a great boost for Thailand’s tourism sector, pre-Covid, the number of international visitors would have averaged 1,523,000 arrivals over any two-week period in 2019.

Bangkok Airways has applied for 14 more flights during this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations, Myanmar Airways has applied for 8, and T’Way Airlines has applied for another 8. TWay Airline is South Korea’s third largest low-cost carrier.

The Chinese market is conspicuously absent from this year’s Chinese New Year arrivals. With current Chinese return quarantine requirements ranging from 21 to 58 days, relatively few Chinese are traveling at this time, however it is expected that there would be plenty of Chinese domestic travel around the Chinese New Year vacation.

Chinese market is conspicuously absent from this year's Chinese New Year travel rush in Thailand's arrivals.
Chinese market is conspicuously absent from this year’s Chinese New Year travel rush in Thailand’s arrivals.

Even the boisterous Yowarat Road CNY celebrations have been quiet this year, with ceremonies, parties, and festivals cancelled in Bangkok’s Chinatown. However, there will still be a few dragons and fireworks joining in to welcome the Year of the Tiger.

The reinstatement of the Test & Go re-entry travel program will take place right in the heart of the annual Chinese New Year travel rush. With the updated version, which will be released on February 1, travelers will be forced to take two Covid-19 tests, one on the first day and another on the fifth. The most recent Test & Go also necessitates the pre-payment of a Day 1 and Day 5 SHA+ hotel reservation.

The challenge for Thailand’s tourism industry will be to maintain the influx of foreign tourists arriving after the Chinese New Year travel rush as the year progresses into the calmer tourist months.

Without the robust Chinese visitor numbers and a sluggish global travel attitude, international arrivals in Thailand are anticipated to stay equally low for the remainder of 2022. However, as local South East Asian tourist competitors begin to reopen with fewer restrictions, local tourism operators are hopeful that the CCSA would soon remove limitations and quarantine requirements in Thailand over the next several months in order for them to remain competitive.

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